EFF and Ndlozi ordered to pay veteran journalists R40k, apologise for Madikizela-Mandela 'Stratcom' agents slur

2020-01-24 12:04
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi  (Jan Gerber, News24)

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (Jan Gerber, News24)

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The EFF and its spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, have been ordered to apologise for commenting that journalists Anton Harber and Thandeka Gqubule were Stratcom agents - and they have to pay the journalists R40 000 in damages each.

In 2018, Harber and Gqubule asked the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg for relief after Ndlozi accused them of working for Stratcom - an apartheid-era propaganda arm of the security police - in a statement issued on behalf of the EFF.

READ | Stratcom labels for journalists are 'incredibly dangerous' - Sanef

The court ruled in the journalists' favour on Friday morning.

"I find that the impugned statements are defamatory," Judge Lebogang Modiba ruled.

She ordered Ndlozi and the EFF to, within 24 hours of the granting of the order, remove the statements from all their media platforms, including their website and Ndlozi's Twitter account, and to publish a notice on platforms where the statements had been published in which they unconditionally retract and apologise.

Damages

They were interdicted from publishing any statements that say or imply that the journalists worked for or collaborated with the apartheid government.

The EFF and Ndlozi were ordered jointly and severally to pay damages of R40 000 to each of the applicants, as well as Gqubule and Harber's costs.

On April 4, 2018, HuffPost SA posted a video clip of an interview conducted with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in June 2017. The interview was arranged after the screening of the documentary Winnie.

In the clip, Madikizela-Mandela referred to Gqubule, Harber and Nomavenda Mathiane. She said Gqubule was negatively disposed toward her and that the Weekly Mail, which Harber founded and edited in the 1980s, was "anti-me and anti-ANC".

She then claimed the Weekly Mail "actually did the job for Stratcom".

The EFF published a statement on April 12, condemning the SA National Editors' Forum's silence, claiming journalists who served on apartheid's Stratcom still reported in different newsrooms.

"Former apartheid special branch police have indicated that they had 40 journalists on their payroll working to destroy Mama Winnie Mandela. In a video recently released by Huffington Post, Mama Winnie Mandela mentions the current editor of Economic News in the SABC, Thandeka Gqubule, and Anton Harber, former editor at eNCA and a Wits Media and Journalism professor, as having worked for Stratcom," the statement read.

More to follow.

Read more on:    eff  |  mbuyiseni ndlozi  |  media freedom
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